What some disappointing teams can do to turn their seasons around
By Sid Saraf, FOXSports.com Most people probably aren't surprised that the Jaguars are currently winless. But how are the Redskins and Vikings -- two playoff teams from 2012 -- sitting at 0-3? Even the Giants and Steelers, who both barely missed out on the postseason, have yet to win a game. It goes further, as the 49ers (1-2) -- picked by many to be a Super Bowl participant -- have been disappointing. As have the 1-2 Packers and Falcons. But, the good news is, it's still early. All is definitely not lost. So, that being said, let's break down what some underachieving teams can do to turn their frowns upside down.1. San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
This is a tough one. After an impressive win over the Packers in Week 1, the 49ers headed to Seattle and got stomped by the Seahawks. While the loss in question wasn't bad, since nobody seems to win in Seattle these days, most people would have thought the game would have been closer than the 29-3 final score. It got worse in Week 3, when Andrew Luck and the Colts handed a somewhat unexpected 27-7 thumping. The Good News: Despite their recent struggles, the 49ers should be able to beat the Rams on Thursday. Then what follows is a stretch of winnable games: Houston, Arizona, at Tennessee, at Jacksonville (in London) and home against the Panthers coming off their bye. Even if they drop a game, they can still come out of that stretch with a 6-3 overall record. That puts them right back in the swing of things. If Colin Kaepernick can shake off his recent subpar play and the 49ers defense can start getting tough against the run, everything will be fine. This team is just too talented. 2. New York Giants (0-3)
What a mess. The Giants' offensive line might as well not even be there, because it seems defenses just go right through them. Eli Manning is throwing interceptions left and right, the team has just 133 rushing yards all season and they were just shut out by the Panthers 38-0. What makes things worse, is head coach Tom Coughlin is going through personal tragedy, as his brother unexpectedly died last week. The Good News: There isn't much. Of the Giants' remaining 13 games, five are against division rivals in a wacky NFC East. However, they also face matchups against the suddenly relevant Chiefs, then the Bears, Packers, Chargers, Seahawks and Lions. So, my best advice to the G-Men is to take the same tack as when trying to lose weight: start small. Forget about the whole picture and just focus on the opponent in front of you. Or pray. Yeah, maybe praying would work out best. 3. Washington Redskins (0-3)
Well, when your franchise QB doesn't play a snap in the preseason after offseason surgery, is it really a surprise that he's looked rusty? Robert Griffin III clearly doesn't have the burst with his feet that he did in his rookie season and that was apparent in the Redskins' first two losses, both of which were blowouts for the most part. And while the Redskins dropped a close one to the Lions in Week 3, mistakes (interceptions, dropped passes, fumbles) proved to be their undoing. So, what now? The Good News: Relax! Just like the Giants, the Redskins are just two games back in the NFC East and still have two games against the division-leading Cowboys. And while RG3's knee is a concern, it WILL get better as the season goes along. There's nothing like game action to truly get a player in shape and the young quarterback will have to take his lumps while he gets stronger. This team still has running back Alfred Morris and after three poor performances, the defense can only get better, right? If they can play conservative football for the time being and with a timely win here and there, they could feasibly be in contention for the division crown by season's end. Who knows, 8-8 could be good enough to take the NFC East. 4. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
To be fair, this team played the 49ers close in Week 1 and had the Bengals on the ropes this past Sunday before the bottom fell out. Green Bay is going through running backs at an alarming rate as Eddie Lacy and James Starks have been hobbled by injuries over the past two weeks. Aaron Rodgers, considered by many to be the best QB in the NFL, is coming off his first truly bad game in recent memory, throwing two interceptions in the loss at Cincinnati. What to do? The Good News: Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers. He's allowed to have a bad game every now and again. And despite the loss on Sunday, let's remember that Packers were leading 30-14 before turnovers played a huge role in the Bengals scoring 20 unanswered points for the victory. Green Bay is entering a bye in Week 4, so it has time to iron out the kinks and get after it against the Lions in Week 5. A win there can start the ball rolling and get this team back where it belongs. Nobody should be throwing their hands up in frustration at this point. 5. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3)
This team looks old, out of sync and ... just old. The Steelers turned the ball over five times in their latest loss, 40-23 at home against Chicago. Can they fix their ailing running game? Will Ben Roethlisberger continue to take hit after hit in the pocket? Will this defense be able to hold it all together? These are all valid questions. The Good News: The 2014 NFL Draft isn't that far away! I hear the draft is a fountain of young players. Sorry, Steelers Nation, you might just have to eat a bad season, restock the cupboard and come back stronger next fall. Questions? Comments? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we might respond in our weekly mailbag!